A barn-fresh Jaguar XK120 drophead coupe at Bonhams Quail Lodge auction in 2014. Photo by author.
A car, truck or motorcycle is only original once, explaining, perhaps, the premiums often paid for “barn find” lots over restored examples. Likewise, preservation class vehicles at high-end concours events never fail to attract attention, perhaps for their ability to give attendees a conduit to a different place and time. For its 21st annual car show on Sunday, September 18, the Hagley Museum in Wilmington, Delaware, will be paying tribute to both groups as it celebrates The Way They Were: Barn Finds and Un-restored Originals.
If the Hagley Museum doesn’t sound familiar, perhaps the family and company that once occupied the 235 acre site on the banks of the Brandywine River will. Dating to 1802, the du Pont family’s first home was built here, along with a gunpowder works that made the company the largest supplier of black powder to the United States military by the time of the Civil War. In 1957, the Hagley Museum opened its doors, striving explain the impact that American business, technology and innovation has had upon the world.
More than just a single building, the Hagley’s grounds include a library, stone ruins, restored mill buildings and worker housing, and the du Pont family home and gardens. Not only is the Smithsonian Affiliate site a National Historic Landmark and a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark, but its layout also qualifies it for a National Recreation Trail. To put the facility’s size in perspective, the upper grounds, adjacent to the du Pont home, gardens and barn, offers room enough for 500+ vehicles in the non-judged show.
Registration is required for anyone wishing to show a vehicle, and the field is open to all vehicles manufactured in 1991 or earlier. The show’s goal is educational, so vehicles that “accurately depict the history of the transportation industry” are favored, and to promote the presence of Brass-Era cars, vehicles built before 1920 are invited to register at no charge. Barn finds and un-restored originals are the featured class for 2016, but the show remains open to all vehicles 25 years old or older.
For the sake of the show, the museum defines barn finds as “vehicles that were kept in long-term storage and for the most part have been left untouched over the years.” Originals should be “cars that have had no modifications made to them that would differ from what was available from the manufacturer. They have often been cleaned and polished and given new parts such as tires and batteries, but all replacement parts must match the original equipment.”
The Hagley’s annual car show is held with the help of numerous regional organizations, including the Brandywine Region AACA, Chester County Antique Car Club, First State Corvair Club, Historical Car Club of Pennsylvania, Historical Vintage Car Club of Delaware, and the South Jersey Region AACA. In addition to an ample array of classic cars, the show includes vehicle parades, video game racing, pedal car racing, and a festival food court, with proceeds from the event going to support the Hagley Museum and Library’s public education programs.
For more information, or to register your own classic car, visit Hagley.org/Event/Hagley-Car-Show-2016.